The Eighth Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 1 to July 31, 2018



Lisa Emond
Oregon, USA


My name is Lisa Emond, and I am from Oregon, USA. I've been making costumes for Renaissance Faires, SCA, and Regency historical re-creation for about 30 years. I have only made one outfit I would call Italian Renaissance, and that was about 25 years ago when I was just starting out. It was not very historically accurate! My plan is to do an outfit based on Portrait of a Lady by Titian from 1555. I am in love with this Venetian "Turkish coat".

The first layer will be the camicia as shown in the picture. The second layer is an underskirt. This isn't shown in the portrait, but I feel that since the coat would fall open at the bottom most likely some skirt was worn under it.The third layer is the turkish coat. The fourth layer will include either a necklace and earrings or a hat.I have included images for my inspiration painting as well as my own photo. I'm excited to be participating in this challenge as I have been following your showcases for over 6 years!

First Update

I started first with the camicia. It's based on the construction information on the Realm of Venus site. It's a linen cotton mix, chosen because it was easily available and on sale, that's handkerchief weight. It's completely hand sewn with linen thread. Here you can see the inset gusset.

The gussets were edge finished and the seams sewn by whipstitching, which is a technique I found mentioned as being used for some Elizabethan garments. As the portrait I am using as an inspiration is from 1550, it seemed appropriate to the period.

The longer seams were sewn with flat felled seams, also handsewn.

I hemmed the bottom and sleeves with a whipstitch.

I decided to use a lucet to make a drawstring for the neck. Although drawstrings aren't clearly documented in period, some portraits do show strings closing the camicia in the front. I wanted to be able to adjust the neckline a bit. The portrait does not show any clear band or ruffle.

I haven't finished the neck yet, but here's a picture showing the sleeve and gusset so far.

I plan to use a simple gathered neck with a plain band and the drawstring threaded through. I also need to dye the lace for the sleeves and attach that.

Second Update

I started out the month by dyeing the lace for the sleeves of my camicia. The portrait shows a very delicate gold lace, but I was not able to find anything similar in gold. I did find a good white lace that looked pretty close, and decided to dye it myself. I have had good luck with tea dyeing, so I thought I would give it a try with this lace. I took 20 tea bags (Tetley's) and a gallon of boiling water. I added a bit of gold Rit dye to bring out the yellow. It came out the perfect color!

After dyeing the lace, I finished the neckband of the camicia. I gathered the neck and hand sewed it to the band. Then I folded it over into a casing and threaded the lucet cord I made through the casing. I hemmed the sleeves and the bottom, and whipstitched the lace to the sleeves.

During the search for lace for the sleeves, I came across some beautiful gold Venetian lace in my stash. Since it was a small piece, it seemed perfect for a handkerchief. I hand hemmed some of the leftover linen from the camicia, and attached the lace. I found several portraits showing handkerchiefs with showy gold lace to support the addition.

Still have a long way to go!